Denison’s Barb (puntius denisonii) a controversial species

Originating from the fast- flowing hill streams and rivers of the state of Kerala and South Karnataka in South India. They can grow up to 6 in (15 cm) and have a life-span of 8 years.

This fish is a relatively new addition to the fish keeping hobby. The Denison’s barb is a schooling fish that is usually kept in groups of six or more. They tend to be peaceful but some have been known to be slightly aggressive around food, especially if kept in less space than they require. They eat bloodworms, shrimp, meat, fish flake and some vegetation. A similar fish, Puntius chalakudiensis is sometimes confused with this fish, but it is a larger, less colourful and a more aggressive species.

Puntius denisonii barb


Denison's Barb (puntius denisonii) school

They are active schooling fishes, and thrive in subtropical environments in water conditions with a 6.8–7.8 pH, a water hardness of 5–25 dGH and a temperature range of 65–79 °F (18–26 °C).

The fish was most likely collected and exported out of India in 1996. In 1997, it won the third prize at ‘Aquarama 1997′ (world exhibition on Ornamental fish) under the ‘New Species Category’. By 2007-08 it constituted about 60- 65% of the total live ornamental fish exported from India which was worth US$ 1.54 million. Though the Government of Kerala banned the fishing and export of the endangered barb, it is yet to be listed under the National Wlidlife Protection Act.

In 2010 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) put the fish on their Red list regarded as the most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of plant and animal species since 1963. The species has been assigned Vulnerable (VU) status because of several reasons including restricted extent of occurrence (less than 20,000 km2), decline in habitat quality and number of mature individuals.

As reported by Practical Fishkeeping in January 2009, new research by team of scientists from India suggests that the species is being over-exploited for the aquarium trade, potentially placing it at risk of extinction. In spite of being listed as Endangered by local assessment reports the fish had been promoted as an ‘Export item’ by several government agencies!

Over the years many efforts have been made to breed this rapidly depleting species in captivity with limited success. Recent (2009) success has come from the work carried out at the Fisheries College, Kerala by Dr.T.V Anna Mercy. Equally if not more important breeding efforts have been carried out by the Chester Zoo and two amateur fish-lovers from Chennai- Mr. Venkatesh and Murali (as reported by The Hindu in October 2008). These efforts would pave the way for standardizing the process and would be a major boost to conservation and ornamental fish trade in India.

(Source: Wikipedia – The Free Online Encyclopedia)

Compatible: Tetras, Rasboras, Loaches, Danios, Gouramis, Livebearers, Corydoras, Discus, Barbs, Rainbowfish, Plecos, and Scavenger Catfish of similar size.

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